Michael Greenberg comments

Posted in: New site to allow shinkansen tickets to be booked outside Japan See in context

The JR Central app which is tied to my Apple Wallet Suica is quite good for booking shinkansen tickets; especially allowing for last-minute changes of trains and seats. (I am American spending about 120 days per year in Japan). I am mostly disappointed that JR East doesn't have an English language one that has the same functionality. For the Akita shinkansen, it's still a separate trip to the station or a long line to buy a ticket. It's a shame that JR East can't lease or reimburse or otherwise compensate or borrow the same functionality from JR Central. Is anyone reading this a rail insider who can tell us why (maybe there is a particular technical reason or is it just provincialism among the different rail companies)?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: What to do if you are stopped by the police in Japan See in context

Stopped 3 times in 15 years- all for English practice...Easy stuff- Be as genki as possible....Just start talking about how excited you are you are in Japan- start showing pictures on your iPhone (especially if you have a Japanese spouse and/or mixed kids)...Okusama wa nihonjin......Aka chan des (I know its grammatically wrong- doesn't matter)...Excited wall of English...They usually smile and just give up...Once he asked for my gaijin card as well...I said "sure but you also have to show too" with a big smile....We each showed and then talked about his home town..

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan pulls out stops to improve nightlife for foreign tourists See in context

I find the opposite problem. Nightlife is EASY...It's what do you do during the day if you don't have business meetings thats tough. If you go over enough, there is no need to be shopping or eating all the time. In the daytime, unless you are eating, there are few places to publicly sit. A lot of the nature has been removed (mass tree cuttings as it is too muzakashi to deal with leaves, etc..). Sky Tree- a shopping mall inside a tower- yeah so....Tokyo Tower- this is very significant for Japanese people as it represents reconstruction and modernization in the sixties- to foreigners- just a big TV antenna....Temples and Shrines are important- but many are right next to dilapidated buildings or parking lots. Asakusa- lacks an authentic feel as too many souvenir shops and the izakayas in the area don't even allow kids in the daytime.

Night time - in a CLEAN way- Japan is fantastic...Tourists just need to know its OK to go to a small counter restaurant without language ability. Everybody becomes your friend...The chef and the customers usually will do anything to help you order....there are live houses for every single niche of music worldwide everywhere....there is salsa dancing, small gallery things, there was even a Grateful Dead bar in Kita Senju.......with blogs, Facebook, and Google Maps - there are whole worlds and subcultures for anything....bars allow kids (even high end ones)....as long as you are polite and open to experiences, Japan is incredible at night...people just need to know its OK to peak in....occasionally you will get the crossed arms, "we don't need you here..." but that is getting rarer and rarer. Plus tourists would be much better off getting amazing meals for 3000 yen or less including drinks at a highly rated neighborhood place than spending 15,000 per person at their hotel.....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: Conveyor belt sushi chain where foreigner filmed GoPro video considers pressing criminal charges See in context

Sam IS NOT Logan Paul. Sam has lived in Japan for 10+ years...Sam is probably a permanent resident by now....Sam speaks fluent Japanese. Sam likes living in Japan. Met him 8 years ago and found him intelligent, sincere and interesting back then. View his video blogs every few weeks. If Sam is being critical or putting something down, it is usually himself. He does call out Japanese culture on some things but not in a mean way. He is much more likely to put himself down (which he doesn't need to do..)...

The restaurant manager should have approached Sam kindly; spoke to him in Japanese and worked out an appropriate way for Sam to mention and plug the place while asking him not to do that for germ/privacy/whatever reason. Putting him into the Logan Paul bucket is a mistake. Logan Paul was a one week interloper with no social maturity and condescending. Sam is basically a modern, socially observant new skool, Japan-hand. What he did is much less worse that what some Japanese variety and game shows do in making fun of people and/or physically torturing them for laughs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Japanese men reveal 10 times they fell in love with their wives all over again See in context

To the walked in on the wife doing make-up comment....there is a Japanese folk-tale that led to a song by the Decemberists- The Crane Wife......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Thinking differently: Japan works to escape the Galapagos effect See in context

The Julie Hamp paragraph doesn't fit in with the rest of this analysis. Oxycontin is a medicine in both the US and Japan. She wasn't too bright in taking in so much clandestinely. She should have privately dealt with her issues before she took up residence in Japan. Also I have seen quite a few articles that say that Japan "considers" Oxycontin a narcotic. Narcotic is a chemical definition and not a judgement call. Drugs that come from poppies, or are synthetic, that have a similar chemical structure, are narcotics. That's all there is to that definition.

What does an example of one American, possibly being a narcotic addict, and sneaking in a good amount of a substance that is more controlled than others in most countries, have to do with Japan's internationalization?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Toyota in damage control mode after American exec arrested See in context

If she has physical addiction, she may go through withdrawal while in a Japanese jail. It would be nice if that process could be medically managed but that may not be possible.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Okinawa vote a blow to Japan-U.S. ties, say analysts See in context

It's interesting how nice the beaches are in Okinawa; unlike the mainland. It seems the central Japanese government didn't care enough about Okinawans to subsidize the old guys in the economy by paving over all the beaches like on the other 4 islands. Therefore, Okinawa has beautiful natural beaches like Hawaii or Australia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Composer Samuragochi apologizes for fake work See in context

No lawsuits or jail time?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Unruly passenger forces ANA flight to land in Anchorage en route to New York See in context

The New York Times said the affidavit was unsealed. He supposedly had more than 5 drinks and meds for bipolar, schizophrenia, etc on him. So he has biological mental issues plus was intoxicated. He is reported to have both citizenships. Yes, you are not supposed to but many do it anyway. This is where the downside comes in - if you get in trouble which side helps you? (Similar to Christopher Savoie's situation- he had both which may be why the US Embassy didn't let him in after he took back his kid).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: UBS Japan pays $100 mil in Libor rate-fixing case See in context

I knew a lot of the guys- I am wondering which one (or more) it was.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: A Japanese perspective on traveling in the U.S. See in context

Most of the OP's concerns are fair.

While vending machines everywhere in Japan are convenient, it kinda sucks to have them ALL OVER japan like on rural mountain tops.

For the most part, US food even in better restaurants IS disappointing as compared to Japan. In Japan, pasta in a departo that your grandparents favored long ago is still al dente with fresh sauce for US $12- you can pay US$25 for limp, pre-made stuff in the US.

Who give a shit about expensive cigarettes? - people shouldn't be smoking unless they sign a waiver they will pay for all smoking related healthcare costs for themselves until death.

OP is spot on about dirty airline seats although I took a picture of mine on JAL in March leaving SFO for HND as I was so shocked that is the seat pocket was dirty.

Japanese airlines are amazing with luggage in a good way. If they lose it, they tell you BEFORE you get off the plane, walk you to the reporting area, fill out the forms for you, and call you consistently until it shows up. For luggage there is no better. I actually put in my contracts with my clients that I will ONLY take a Japanese airline. Unless you are a student on a group package, suck it up and pay the extra to fly JAL or ANA or accept that some obasan employed by Delta or Northwest is going to yell at you if they are not ignoring you while sitting in the back and playing sudoku.

It's nice to not have to tip but we have to accept that someone has to pay the staff and either you get stuck with Japan prices for small meals or US style (especially bad in the SF area as the tax is 10%, there is a 3% add on for waiter healthcare and then people expect 20%. So in the Bay Area you have to add 35%. You end up going out less but the produce is so good as it is grown around there you can happily eat at home more.

Ear thing- I'll take the American view on it..doesn't need to be cleaned every day as it is protective against excessive sound and catches environmental dirt. Also paying ladies to do it is a little hentai. Ne?

Service chatting with customers- OK for me. People are real and not machines. Better than pre-recorded artificial, kawaii voices telling me obvious stuff like the escalator moves up and down etc. If you are visiting somewhere and you get chatty with local service people, you can learn stuff about the area and have better experiences.

Poor plumbing- Never noticed it but when I think of it, I have not experienced poor plumbing in Japanese hotels. I feel the US is not as bad as the UK in this regard. A difference may be you can drink the water from any tap in the US; not necessarily in Japan.

OP is right - It is hard to find public toilets in the US where you don't have to borrow a key etc. I have a rule that I will walk out of ANY store or restaurant that doesn't allow me to use a bathroom after a polite request. If the store can't accommodate a natural function, they do not deserve my money. Japanese stores and restaurants are MUCH better about this.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: The importance of social etiquette in urban Japan See in context

If you are not supposed to eat in public and especially on the trains, why is ice cream bars and cones sold in vending machines on the platforms? In the Japan heat, it's not like you are going to make it home successfully with the ice cream before it melts.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Posted in: 195 hospitalized for heatstroke in western Japan See in context

I wonder how many get sick or die because they believe the "Korean Fan Death" myth that using a fan in a closed room can kill you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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